The Board vs. the Babe

A businesswoman's sex-bias lawsuit takes aim at a new target: the top ranks of corporate America

Nita Heckendorn seemed to be a rare exception: the woman who would never run into the "glass ceiling" that blocks female executives from reaching the top levels of American business. From the day she joined the global operator of hospitals known as National Medical Enterprises in 1980, she moved quickly through the male-dominated ranks. By the age of 47, she had done so well in her role as strategic planner that she was promoted to executive vice president and a director at the corporation, which has more than 48,000 employees and sales of $3.8 billion. Last year Heckendorn set her sights...

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